Five thoughts from Australia’s tour of England and Zimbabwe

Eddie Otto Roar Guru

By Eddie Otto, Eddie Otto is a Roar Guru

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    Things were never going to be easy for Justin Langer when he took over from Darren Lehmann, and the new coach would have had plenty to think about on the way home after Australia returned from England and Zimbabwe.

    Here are five observations on that trophyless tour.

    1. Langer’s rough start
    Langer would have squirmed as his side were beaten six times on the trot by England, then missed the chance to return with some silverware as Pakistan won the T20 series final in Zimbabwe.

    Australia mustered just three wins from 11 games overall, with two of those coming against Zimbabwe.

    With a high-stakes homes series against India, followed by the 2019 World Cup in England, and Ashes series and a T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020, Langer would have left with more questions than answers about the likely make-up of his squads.

    2. Finch states his case for leadership
    Aaron Finch was one of the few positives to emerge, proving to be clearly the best candidate to open the batting and lead Australia in white-ball cricket over the next 18 months.

    After a bizarre experiment batting at five early in the England tour, Finch returned to his natural opening position with authority, playing some thumping innings.

    Finch scored a century against England in Game 3, before making 84 in the lone T20 game. He then bludgeoned 306 runs in Zimbabwe as skipper, at an average of 76 and strike rate over 200, demonstrating his brutal power and devastating ability to take away the game from the opposition in the Power Play.

    There has been talk that Finch is the fittest he has ever been and, at 31, he should still enjoy a few more years as a batsman at near the peak of his powers.

    With World Cups in both 50-over and 20-over cricket on the horizon, it makes sense to have an experienced leader who is guaranteed a spot in both sides, and Finch fits that bill.

    Australian batsman Aaron Finch

    Australian batsman Aaron Finch plays a shot during the T20 cricket match against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday, July, 3, 2018. Zimbabwe is playing host to a tri-nation Twenty20 International series with Australia and Pakistan. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    3. Stanlake the pick of struggling pace attack
    With Australia’s three most experienced and best fast bowlers – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins – all rested from the tour, there was a real opportunity for a new pace asset to emerge.

    Kane Richardson struggled and Jhye Richardson was inconsistent, leaving Billy Stanlake as the biggest seam threat.

    It was encouraging to see Stanlake play nine games at full fitness in a short period of time, as well as make an impact, despite Australia’s bowlers struggling mightily at times, particularly in England.

    Big Billy picked up six wickets in four ODIs in England, before taking seven wickets at an average of 17 and an economy under seven in the T20 tri-series.

    With Australia likely to rely heavily on Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins in Test cricket, Stanlake could well play a big role in both T20 and 50-over World Cups.

    4. Leave Tim Paine for Test cricket
    After being widely praised for his performances and interim leadership in Test cricket, this was a chastising couple of weeks for Tim Paine – a reality check, in some respects, of how hard a game cricket can be when you’re leading a patchwork side and your own form starts to fail you.

    It was surprising that Langer and the selectors opted to go with Paine as the captain in England. Obviously the thinking was that he could provide the calm and experienced head that he did in a tumultuous time in South Africa, howeve, for a man who nearly retired from cricket two years ago and was not a regular for Tasmania, Paine now has a lot on his plate.

    He has had plenty of injuries over his long career, and it would have been best for him to focus all his energies for the next 18 months on captaining the Test side.

    Instead, having lost 5-0 over in England and experienced a wretched series with the bat will erode his confidence.

    5. Khawaja the odd man out
    Even with Australia missing their two best batsmen, Usman Khawaja couldn’t land a spot on the plane to England or Zimbabwe.

    While Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and D’Arcy Short experienced mixed tours, Khawaja was running amok for Glamorgan, peeling off three straight centuries in his first three County games.

    Khawaja has a moderate ODI record, averaging 31 from 18 games, but at a time when Australia are lacking genuine run-scorers, it’s mystifying he was ignored, given his List A record and Big Bash form over the past few seasons.

    Averaging over 45 in domestic cricket in Australia, his 50-over record is superior to both his Test and first-class averages, having scored nine tons when opening the batting.

    Khawaja is younger than Finch and could provide a strong option at the top of the order in a side light on players who have scored plenty of hundreds in their career.

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    The Crowd Says (24)

    • July 11th 2018 @ 4:28am
      Roy said | July 11th 2018 @ 4:28am | ! Report

      Good read and agree with the article, stanlake was impressive, Khawaja should have been opening with finch and plenty to learn from these tours, also Mitch marsh was missed

    • Roar Guru

      July 11th 2018 @ 8:40am
      DingoGray said | July 11th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      1. I’m not sure what everyone’s expectations were but England are the number one white ball country in the World, in there conditions was always going to be tough. Pakistan are no mugs themselves and obviously did what we had to against Zimbabwe. I would of thought we performed about where to the neutral looking at form and availability and taking into consideration selections certainly could of expected. Maybe slightly under

      2. Finch for me reminds me of Eoin Morgan only better! Absolute gun at the white ball formats! Brilliant! 1st picked! But should be only picked for white ball Cricket. I think he’s shown his ability as leader over time and really should be long term captain for white ball Cricket.

      3. Stanlake- the modern day Shaun Tait! Hopefully a little bit better. Trick for him now is consistency and getting more cricket under his belt. Another who I think we should be limited to certain formats, at least until he can show his body can handle work loads.

      4. Should of never ever been selected in T20 & ODI squads, little be the captain!!!! He’s how Test Keeper! Full stop! The selectors really didn’t do him any favours

      5. How Khawaja can’t get a start in these sides after his pure domination of our domestic stuff in these formats is laughable.

      • July 11th 2018 @ 8:46am
        Krishna Singh said | July 11th 2018 @ 8:46am | ! Report

        Good comment Dingo, stanlake futuer player, finch great white ball but not red ball khawaja gun player need coming in, langer need time, best coach in world, mitch marsh needed quick

      • July 11th 2018 @ 2:37pm
        Eddie Otto said | July 11th 2018 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

        I agree with Khawaja Dingo, his record in 50 over cricket domestically is really strong. Seems sometimes we are always looking to go with younger players when having an experienced guy there at a time like this would have been sensible. Maybe they don’t see him as an option for 2019 WC when Smith and Warner come back so didn’t want to give him the chance.

    • July 11th 2018 @ 8:46am
      Paul said | July 11th 2018 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Good article Eddie but I have a slight disagreement with your first point. Langer went into these series with his eyes wide open. He had a say in who was going to be selected and he’s been around the first class scene in recent times, so knew the quality of player he was going to be working with. He’s got some answers but all. It’s not easy to get players up for a couple of short tours in the Australian off season, especially when so many regulars weren’t available. He’s gained a lot more knowledge about individuals and the players have responded to him positively I think.

      Langer will come away with lots of positives. He knows for example, Paine is a Test only player but Finch is a ready made replacement as skipper. I didn’t hear one issue from the Australian camp across these tours, yet they were under huge pressure to screw up. This is kudos to the Langer and the team leadership group.

      Langer’s results column is bare at present but I suspect that won’t be for long. He seems to have the guys moving in a positive direction after the SA debacle, so now it’s a matter of getting players back to fitness and form to take on India.

      • July 11th 2018 @ 8:47am
        Krishna Singh said | July 11th 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        Langer need time, he coach best state in country, won most in last 5 year, so far win nothing but give him 5 year

      • Roar Guru

        July 11th 2018 @ 10:36am
        JamesH said | July 11th 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

        Don’t forget we have tests and T20s vs Pakistan in October!

        • July 11th 2018 @ 11:50am
          Paul said | July 11th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          I had indeed. It’ll be interesting to a) see who’s available for that series and b) who the selectors pick for each of the formats

      • July 11th 2018 @ 2:40pm
        Eddie Otto said | July 11th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

        Fair points Paul. I was not really bagging Langer as you can only work with what you have got and he has proved himself an outstanding candidate in domestic cricket. My point was really he has a daunting task ahead for the rest of the year. Pakistan will be very hard to beat on turning wickets in Dubai and India have their best chance of winning in Australia for a number of years. My point was really there has been no honeymoon period.

    • July 11th 2018 @ 9:44am
      KenoathCarnt said | July 11th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      I think the T20 team should go with 5 bowlers seeing as bowling is our strong point and we have bowlers that can bat as well you can get away with it in T20.

      Khawaja
      Finch
      Lynn
      Burns
      Turner
      Carey
      Agar
      Cummins
      Tye
      Stanlake
      Nair/Lyon/NCN

      • July 11th 2018 @ 2:06pm
        Krishna Singh said | July 11th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        Khawaja
        Finch
        Lynn
        Burns
        Maddinson
        Carey
        Agar
        Cummins
        Tye
        Stanlake
        Lyon

        • July 11th 2018 @ 3:24pm
          KenoathCarnt said | July 11th 2018 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

          Nice team I’m just not sold on Maddinson. I think he bats 2 or3 for NSW which he cant do in the Aus team. Turner bats in the middle order already and brings a very valuable 6th bowling option. I kind of wouldnt mind seeing Tom Cooper he is experienced plays very creative effective shots and is reliable.

          • July 11th 2018 @ 3:49pm
            Krishna Singh said | July 11th 2018 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

            Good think, Turner impressive to me too for our WA team

    • July 11th 2018 @ 9:53am
      Christo the Daddyo said | July 11th 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      Agree on Stanlake – hopefully his body can hold together! I would look at him as a specialist T20 bowler for starters and then possible for ODIs if he can be consistent. Not sure he’ll ever be robust enough for Tests though.

      Khawaja – I’m mystified as to his absence. Australia’s batting was inconsistent at best – he could have played a good role purely with his batting, but could have also provided much needed experience and leadership.

      And yes, I’d be letting Paine concentrate on leading the Test team until Smith returns.

      • July 11th 2018 @ 2:07pm
        Krishna Singh said | July 11th 2018 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

        Khawaja would perfect for big scores top order, we miss trick

    • July 11th 2018 @ 12:20pm
      Perry Bridge said | July 11th 2018 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

      Interesting sometimes how the selectors tinker against the bleeding obvious – only then to have to work out how best to back track. Finch to lead in the white ball. Easy.

      Seemingly it wasn’t that easy.

      Let alone Finch to open the batting in the white ball. Even easier one might have thought.

      Ah well.

      • July 11th 2018 @ 2:41pm
        Eddie Otto said | July 11th 2018 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

        Mystifying Perry and many people said so at the time. Interesting spot they have put Paine in now given he will likely be dropped and might have lost some confidence unnecessarily.

        • July 11th 2018 @ 3:17pm
          Perry Bridge said | July 11th 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          Exactly – it was a gamble that he could come good in that environment – – because he’s a nice guy and 7 years ago we all hoped for him to do well….

        • July 11th 2018 @ 3:50pm
          Krishna Singh said | July 11th 2018 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

          Good point Eddie, hope he bounce in test

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